David Charbonneau, the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, takes time to discuss the possibility that, in the great cosmos, our solar system could be the exception to the cosmic rule, and not the standard model.
The diversity of planets detected around our neighboring stars has taken astronomers completely by surprise. Recent unprecedented glimpses into distant worlds and their atmospheres have astronomers pondering exactly how these oddball planets came to be, and whether, after all, our own solar system might be the cosmic rarity.
BIO: David Charbonneau
David Charbonneau joined the faculty in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University in August 2004. His research focuses on the development of novel techniques for the detection and characterization of planets orbiting nearby, Sun-like stars. Dr. Charbonneau is a founding member of the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey, which uses a network of small, automated telescopes to survey tens of thousands of stars for periodic eclipses that indicate the passage of orbiting planets. In 2005, he led the team that made the first direct detection of light emitted by a planet outside the Solar system. In 2004, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific awarded him the Robert J. Trumpler Award for his graduate thesis entitled Shadows and Reflections of Extrasolar Planets. He was recently named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, and awarded a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering.